James R. Grace
Dr. Grace’s commitment to the Commonwealth’s parks and forests spans 37 years. His understanding of resource management continues to strengthen and enhance government oversight of our parks and forests systems.
While working for the Bureau of Forestry, Dr. Grace had numerous achievements. In 1995, he wrote a strategic plan for the bureau, “Penn’s Woods Sustaining our Forest,” which called for the use of ecosystem management concepts. The following year, Dr. Grace formed the Ecosystem Management Advisory Committee, which brought together natural resource experts from other agencies, academia, industry, and the conservation community to help improve state forest management.
In 1997, Pennsylvania’s state forests became the first in the nation to be certified using the standards established by the Forest Stewardship Council. The initial one million acres was matched the following year with the remaining 1.1 million acres, making Pennsylvania’s state forests the largest certified forest in North America for most of the next decade. Under Dr. Grace’s watch, more than 58,000 acres were added to the state forest system through an active land acquisition program.
Dr. Grace understood that community trees were just as important as those in the state forests. Therefore, in 2004, the TreeVitalize initiative was instituted in Philadelphia and surrounding counties. This initiative brought together a host of public and private partners with a goal of planting 20,000 trees in the region. The initiative expanded in subsequent years to communities throughout the Commonwealth.
In 2010, Dr. Grace was selected for a three-year term as the Maurice K. Goddard Chair in Forestry and Environmental Resource Conservation at Penn State University, a position that focuses on providing leadership on public policy issues. The individual selected for this position exemplifies the traditions set by Doc Goddard himself and clearly shown in Dr. Grace as well. In 2012, he was the recipient of the Joseph Ibberson Government Award from the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation.